Pharmacists are being given new powers in an effort to assist Tasmanian aged care. 

Tasmanian Health Minister Guy Barnett MP has unveiled a new initiative that allows Tasmanian pharmacists to prescribe medicines for aged care patients. 

The move is based on recommendations from a Review of Tasmanian Pharmacists' Scope of Practice

Barnett also shared plans to facilitate treatment for urinary tract infections (UTIs). 

“I am proud to see the Tasmanian Government leading the nation on reform to best support aged care patients and our broader health system,” says Pharmaceutical Society of Australia (PSA) Tasmanian President David Peachey MPS.

“Allowing pharmacists to write repeat prescriptions or change the dose of an existing drug will free up hundreds of GP hours for complex and emerging needs.”

Pharmacists already initiate treatment for uncomplicated UTIs in various parts of Australia, ensuring timely access to care. 

This move aligns Tasmania with national programs, indicating the potential for pharmacists to enhance patient access to care and fortify the health system.

Under the proposed changes, GPs would diagnose patients and create treatment plans, with local pharmacists then empowered to prescribe medications based on these plans. This approach extends to aged care residents, streamlining access to healthcare in these facilities.

Health Consumers Tasmania (HCT) sees it as a positive step to counter the growing difficulty in accessing primary care in the region. 

Both the Pharmacy Guild of Australia and the Pharmaceutical Society of Tasmania applaud the change, highlighting the opportunity to improve access to care, particularly in rural areas.*

However, the Australian Medical Association (AMA) is calling for more details on the pilot program. 

While recognising the potential benefits of strengthened collaboration between pharmacists and GPs, the AMA says it is concerned about pharmacists altering prescription dosages and prescribing antibiotics for UTIs. 

Similar concerns were voiced by the AMA in trials held in Queensland and Western Australia.